The expedition of four people on two rubber canoes will take a trip around the central part of Spitzbergen, the largest island of Svalbard archipelago. The chief goal is Russian ghost-town Pyramiden, the glacier fronts at the ends of Tempelfjord and Billefjord and finally going down the river Adventelva.
These places are located in the area that is not easily accessible by land route in summer. Therefore the expedition will be heavily dependent on the weather and sea conditions. The unique natural sceneries will provide plenty of sights for our cameras.
Getting to Svalbard
It is possible to travel to Svalbard by sea. For someone who's got the ship and enough time it would certainly be the recommended solution. For us only the services of reliable norwegian local airlines remained. The air travel brings additional problems, the considerable weight of our luggage being the greatest. It seems that we can carry more than what is allowed aboard the plane,so we expect troubles with overweight luggage.
Because the price for overweight if multiplied by number of planes, we decided not to fly from Prague as was the case of previous expeditions, but from Oslo. We have bought the ticket Oslo - Longyearbyen, Longyearbyen - Oslo for 10738 CZK. Departure on 25thJuly, return on 23rdAugust 2008.
Strangely, the suggested route Praha - Copenhagen - Oslo - Longyearbyen and back would be only 4000 CZK more expensive. The fee for overweight would be triple though.
To Oslo we plan to get by car via the less frequent ferry Sassnitz - Trelleborg. We have to travel with a firearm and it would be useful to reduce the number of countries we pass through and thus the formalities.
Besides the general experience our goals can by divided into four main areas.
The cuef goal is the deserted Russian mining settlement of Pyramiden on the coast of Bilefjord, one of the northern branches of Isfjord. The town was built around the coal mine and was deserted in the late 1990's by decision of Arktikugol mining company. By so quick leaving of tpe place the impressive ghosttown has been created with signs of former everyday life on each step.
The route to Pyramiden will lead us along two wide glacier fronts at the ends of Tempelfjord and Billefjord. The front of the glacier breaking of into the sea is a very unusual scenery for us. e hope for many sighs worth taking pictures.
The last goal is to go down the river Adventelva. It is one of the biggest rivers on the Nordenskjold land and at its end there is the town of Longyearbyen. The upper part is a quick stream not very demanding from technical point of view. Then there is some rugged terrain, we expect some rapids in that part. Finally the river ends as a wide flow in a muddy delta.
Besides these goals we plan to experiment with use of the rubber canoes for this kind of travelling. We want to focus particularly on the use of improvised sails for moving on the sea.
Plan of the trip
We will start and end in the basecamp near the Longyearbyen airport
The first day – tour to the town, purchasing last provisions, gathering information on weather situation out on the fjords.
Longyearbyen -> Adventfjorden -> Sassenfjorden -> northern side of
Tunabreen glacier at the end of Tempelfjord (check-point #1), tour to the glacier
55 – 60 km, 4 days (optimistic estimate – 3 days)
Get to the northern side of Nordenskjoldbreen glacier at the end of
Billefjord (check-point #2)
60 km, 4 days (optimistic estimate – 3 days)
On the sea to Pyamiden, resting period, tour to Pyramiden ghost-town
12 km, 1 day + 2 days
Way back – crossing Billefjord at the narrowest part and
Tempelfjord the shortest route to the river of Sassandalenu (check-point #3)
60 km, 4 days (optimistic estimate – 3 days)
Land march with boats packec from Sassendalen to Adventdalen
22 km, at least 2 days
Going down Adventdalen to Longyearbyen
35 km, 1 day
There are no charts of the river available. We have crossed the upper part twice during the 2002 expedition. The rest mainly the lower part can be estimated from our experience with Reindalselva in 2004. The middle part goes through rugged terrain and we might have to scout from the banks in some places. Most likely the technical difficulty will not exceed WWII.
The total time of the trip should not be more than 17 days. In a three weeks plan and one day in the beginning, there should still be a 3 days reserve.
Until the departure
After finishing the main trip there still will be at least 7 days left. For this period, the expedition will move to the area of Colesbukta bay. It is a comfortable one day trip on the sea and significantly harder also one day trip on the land. The basecamp in the area will be Russanov's cabin and we will do shorter trips in its vicinity (climb to Lindstrom fjellet above the cabin or to Vesuv on the other side of the bay).
Since it is a trip there and back again, it is difficult to shorten it in any way. But all plan counts with very short distances for each day, so it is possible to spare some time between the check-points. All legs of the way are 60 km long. From our experience it is not a problem to make it in two days even in rubber boat on the sea. At least one member of each crew is experienced in long distance paddling, which can prove useful should the time run short.
In case of bad weather conditions and a significant delay at check-point #1, it is possible to leave out the second glacier and go strait to Pyramiden. Should the delay be worse we can leave Pyramiden out completely and stay on north cost of Tempelfjord, hiking and canoeing on the streams in the area of Sassen-Bunsow National Park.
The delay at the second check-point will result in leaving out Pyramiden and quick return.